It kind of scares me when people start to think I hold some special shopping skills to be able to get the deals I have been getting. Believe me, I don’t. I’m the least likely person to ever be doing something like this and I still am not sure how I got conned into doing this (I’m supposed to be on a tropical island sipping fruity drinks and swimming in the ocean ever morning). I don’t enjoy couponing very much, so I make the process as simple and painless as possible. Anyone with an ounce more motivation than I have (which probably includes 99.999% of everyone reading this) could do better than I have been doing.

I’m a newbie. I started couponing for the first time at the beginning of this year because of another project where I am trying to help food banks. I knew that there were “super couponers” out there and so I asked them to teach me. What I found is that there are a lot of misconceptions about couponing and I held many of them. Once I learned how the couponing system really works, it really isn’t that difficult at all and believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.


This is part of a continuing challenge to eat well while spending an average of only $1 a day on food. You can find the beginning and the rules of this challenge here


I’m still learning. I still make mistakes. I miss a lot of deals because I am not willing to put in hours of extra work looking for every possible savings out there. My system is pretty simple and straightforward — look at the stores best 5 deals each week and buy things that are free / nearly free — or those items that make it so I can buy other things I need / want at greatly reduced prices.

By far the biggest obstacle to getting started is not having 2 months of Sunday paper inserts at home. This is mainly a frustrations factor that makes people quit before they see the benefit. Online printable coupons will make for some good deals, but it is frustrating when you see deals that you can’t participate in because you don’t have the coupons. If you are considering giving this a try, start saving your Sunday coupon inserts (simply date them and file them away — no clipping) and figure out how you can get as many as possible each week. The more you have, the more you will be able to save and you will be in great shape when you finally decide to take the plunge anytime in the future.

There really aren’t secrets (it’s more of learning about all the ways that you can save that you probably have been unaware of up to this point) and most of it is common sense and changing the way you shop. I’m not sure if this project has inspired many to give couponing a try, but if it has, I encourage you to start off slowly and build as you gain more confidence. Even if you cut your grocery bill by only 10% (and you will cut it a lot more than that), you are getting a much better return than you could on any other investment.

A number of people have asked if I will put together a short tutorial on how to begin. I’m not sure that I am the best person to do this, but I am working on a basic guide on how I go about it for those that want to get some good deals, but don’t want to spend a whole lot of time doing it (let’s hear it for lazy couponing!)


I have decided that having a fruit smoothie is a perfect way to start a day and I will be doing this as often as I can. It’s simple, good for me, takes practically no effort and tastes wonderful. Today I upped the ice content to 7 cubes (instead of 5) to make it not quite so thick. The only other things I added were a handful of blackberries and a banana. This was the result:

breakfast smoothie

The weekend continued to be quite busy and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to make meals, so I ended up making easy to eat snacks / meals the rest of the day. In the late morning it was a bowl of Cheerios with banana on top:

day 44 breakfast


In the early afternoon I decided to take out the Honey Nut Cheerio pancakes from the freezer that I had made a couple of days before.

day 44 snack

Unfortunately, they were not nearly as good as when they were made – the Honey Nut Cheerios had lost their sweetness and crunch, so I added some peanut butter topping to give them a bit of flavor:

day 44 snack peanut butter

Later in the afternoon, I took some of the leftover scalloped potatoes and corn and heated them up:

day 44 late lunch


I received an email from Kelli suggestion that I try a meal from the Great Depression Cooking series (several others had mentioned this series in the early days of the challenge and I decided then that I wanted to try at least one meal at some point) Since I had all the ingredients for the “Poorman’s Meal” I decided to give it a try:

I followed all the instructions pretty much to a T (I was considering changing the couple of table spoons of pasta sauce to BBQ sauce, but ultimately decided against it). Then I made a small lettuce and carrot salad which I topped with Italian dressing:

poor man's dinner

I am beginning to run low on veggies, so I am hoping to make a trip to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up a bit. Now if I only had another 8 hours in each day…

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $34.65
Money left to spend: $26.35 ($1.33 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $793.22


The Beginning ::: Day 45: Fighting With Wildlife


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  1. Honeynut Cheerios and peanut butter, hmmm. How was it? Its good with regular pancakes, peanut butter and a banana cut into a face, smiling at you. LOL. Its something to share with your niece. My son loved it.

  2. I’m from the Caribbean and read the first month today and I’m extremely impressed actually. I’m planning to attend a college in America and I’m so happy that I saw this, simply because I believe it will come in very handy:). Thanks and I hope you continue to do well!

  3. I see all the ingredients for potato pancakes in your list. You even have sour cream to eat with the pancakes.

    Rice pudding is doable also. There are two styles of rice pudding, stove top or baked.,1842,157175-227196,00.html

    If you see a deal on a whole chicken grab it. Sometimes you can find a roasting chicken being discounted to a couple of dollars because it is nearing the sell by date. Roast it as soon as you get it because it won’t keep long. It is then possible to stretch a large hunk of meat for many, many meals.

  4. You have inspired me to start couponing again,to both save some money and be able to donate to the local food bank. You mentioned in a previous post that you use
    coupon search engines to locate coupons on sale items. Do you have a list of those search engines? I am envisioning filing my Sunday coupons and using a search engine to identify the needed coupons. Like you I found that cutting out individual coupons every week took to much time. I had many left over coupons and often could not find what I needed. My time is almost as valuable as money.

  5. Hi Jeffrey –
    If you were able to get some soy sauce packets from somewhere you could make some yummy chicken or turkey fried rice.

    You’ll need: onions, some of your meat (which ever you decide), cooked rice, soy sauce, an egg or two, and if your frozen veggies have peas – some peas.

    Start by frying up some chopped onion in some canola oil.
    Add in the meat (chopped up) – get it a little brown, but don’t burn it. put in rice (cooked ahead of time remember) and “fry” that with the onions and meat. Mix it up well so you get some yum in every bite. At this point you can push the rice mixture to the side of the pan and scramble up an egg or two on the side – or if that’s too complicated just scramble them in another pan and add them into the rice mixture (once cooked – no eating raw egg). Add the peas (if you have them) – since they’re frozen they won’t take long you’ll just want to stir it around until the peas are heated with the rest of the mixture and no longer frozen or even cold. Lastly, season with soy sauce – this will be dependent on how many packets you can get and how much you like it.

    Hope this works out for you. It’s pretty easy – easier if you have to cook up rice for a meal the night before and just use left overs to make it.

    PS – you can make it with or without your meat. The meat will add flavor, but it’s doable without if you need the meat for other things – you’ll probably really need the peas though.

  6. Found your blog through lifehacker a few days ago and am finally up to date on your posts.

    I really appreciate your posts and your advice. I’ve been interested in couponing and thanks to you I’m learning alot! I also wanted to say you are an absolute inspiration for your work w/the food banks. It’s refreshing to come across someone with your character. Keep up the good work! You’re inspiring a ton of people to follow in your footsteps!

  7. One way I handle busy weeks is to make a big pot of pasta, drain & put in frig. Then when I need a quick meal, I portion out what I want, throw on an olive oil & vinegar dressing and set it back in frig to marinate. I chop up red onions, & fresh basil & tomato if I have it, add granulated garlic, toss it, and for me that’s a quick & yummy meal.

    Hope that may help.

  8. is a great forum to join for finding all types of deals and it has a great coupon database for finding printable coupons for just about everything!

  9. did you not like the poorman’s meal? you didn’t mention it, so i’m assuming it sorta sucked?

  10. @brad

    No, it was good. I just assumed that since I do have a challenged palate nobody really cared what I thought about the meals – I have since (at the request of other readers) been trying to give my opinion on the meals I have been eating.

  11. Clara is adorable. Reminds me of my little grandma. She used to cut everything right into the pot just like that.

    I’m really glad to have just found your blog. You’re an interesting and compassionate guy. (Although I am mad at you for influencing me to make a peanut butter and banana smoothie at 10 p.m.!)

    If you’d like to try it: banana (I squish them into ziplock bags at the first sign of a brown speck, then store them flat in the freezer), big spoon of PB, a couple of spoons of plain greek yogurt (optional, it’s just something I like – adds creaminess and tang), some ice, and enough of whatever kind of milk you have to get it moving in the blender. Yummy and healthy.
    Take care!

  12. Maybe you should find a deal on protein powder (vegetable is best, whey if you know it won’t upset your stomache, but not soy because it causes hormonal womanly changes to men) and add it to your smoothies in the mornings. Aside from your peanut butter sandwhiches, you are mainly consuming carbohydrates, which is fine, but if you want to have a ‘well balanced’ diet, you need more protein. And powder is an easy way to supplement it. Speaking of supplements, maybe try to find a deal on multi-vitamins to take every day.

  13. You could probably grind up the honey nut cheerios into very fine powder and mix it in with your flour/pancake mix instead of throwing them in whole.

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